HCA Healthcare
April 12, 2019

SOURCE: Corpus Christi Caller Times

AUTHOR: Alexandria Rodriguez

It was July 2015. Tammy Childers was home with her husband, Jack, and their 5-year-old son.

Dinner was in the works.

Corpus Christi Medical Center unveiled its Tree of Life mural during its organ donor celebration on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times)

Tammy Childers turned around and Jack Childers had collapsed on the floor.

"He became ill. We didn't know he was even sick," Tammy Childers said.

Instead of relaxing for Jack Childers' vacation time, they found themselves at Corpus Christi Medical Center - Doctor's Regional.

On July 14, 2015, Jack Childers died. He was 32 and had been married to Tammy Childers for two years.

Tammy Childers talks about her late husband, Jack — who donated multiple organs after his passing — during Corpus Christi Medical Center's organ donor celebration. The hospital unveiled its Tree of Life mural on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times)

"We dated in high school," Tammy Childers said. "I moved for college and he moved to another state. We reconnected here and got back together and got married."

Tammy Childers knew her husband was committed to people, so it was no surprise he had registered to be an organ donor.

And in Jack Childers' death, five people were given another chance at life. He donated tissue and all his organs — except his lungs. Doctor's later discovered he had pneumonia.

"It gave me hope and willingness to do it," Tammy Childers said. "We know his final wishes were fulfilled."

He and 14 others are included in the "Tree of Life" mural inside Corpus Christi Medical Center - Doctor's Regional hospital, which was unveiled Thursday evening.

Joyce Williams looks up at a photo of her husband, Gregory, on Corpus Christi Medical Center's Tree of Life mural on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times)

The mural — painted by registered nurse Loraine Abrego — features a large tree adorned with butterflies on a green and blue background. A poem about organ donation and a television screen with photos and names of the donors are also on the wall.

"The thought started toward the end of last year to create a wall of heroes," said Karen Dudas, registered nurse and critical care manager at the hospital. "It all started in January — not only the wall, but the whole concept and a celebration with donor families."

Staff gathered information for the past five years and contacted families of donors whose organs were harvested at the hospital. Families were served dinner before they saw the mural and display that featured their loved ones.

The 15 people included in the display saved 27 lives, said Dr. Faith Borunda of Southwest Transplant Alliance.

Corpus Christi Medical Center hosted a celebration with families of local organ donors and unveiled its Tree of Life mural on Thursday, April 11, 2019. (Photo: Courtney Sacco/Caller-Times)

By the numbers

  • There were more than 36,500 transplants in 2018. About 10,700 were from nonliving donors and about 6,800 from living donors.
  • There are more than 110,000 people awaiting organ transplants.More than 10,000 are Texans.
  • A person is added to the national organ transplant waiting list every 10 minutes.
  • About 8,000 people die each year waiting for organ transplants. That's an average of 22 people die each day — nearly one person an hour.
  • There are about 1.75 million tissue transplants and 30,000 tissue donors every year. A single tissue can help more than 75 people.
  • Corneal transplants give about 48,000 people restored sight each year.

Sources: Southwest Transplant Alliance and Donate Life.

How to help

  • Raise awareness by wearing blue and green on April 12 for National Donate Life Blue & Green Day
  • To register as an organ donor, visit Register Me or Donate Life Texas.
  • You can also register to be an organ and tissue donor when renewing your driver's license in Texas.